VIU soccer on cusp of achieving goal

Vancouver Island University’s men’s soccer team starts play at the PacWest provincial championships this coming weekend.

Douglas Royals player Raaqim Amijee

Douglas Royals player Raaqim Amijee

The VIU Mariners know just how close they’ve come, now, to achieving a goal.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s soccer team is getting ready to start play at the Pacific Western Athletic Association provincial championships this coming weekend (Oct. 27-28) in Squamish.

The M’s (8-1-5) finished the regular season this past weekend with a pair of 1-1 ties on the road, but the results didn’t matter much. VIU had already sewed up the No. 2 seed going into PacWest provincials.

It’s an enviable position. Because the top-seeded Douglas Royals are hosting the Canadian Colleges’ Athletic Association national championships next month, B.C. gets two berths.

“As much as we’re excited to hear that, as much as we hope that happens, we try to keep that from our mind,” said Stephen Ewashko, VIU midfielder. “The biggest focus is winning that first game. We win that first game, we see what the result is and we go from there.”

If all goes as expected this weekend, the M’s just need to worry about winning that semifinal game Saturday against Thompson Rivers University. Rarely is the playoff picture so clear.

“We can take everything we have right now and focus on that first game, where usually going into provincials you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen,” said Bill Merriman, VIU coach.

The TRU WolfPack are a physical team that tends to play the Mariners tough, but the M’s plan to bring their best to the post-season and they don’t think any opponent will be able to match them. VIU has been to two straight national tournaments, winning it all in 2010, and this season has been all about getting back there.

“That was our focus from Day 1, from pre-season training,” Ewashko said. “We didn’t want to hide it, I wasn’t worried about jinxing us or anything like that, I knew we had a strong team. This is when it all counts and this is why we did all that work.”

Most of the core of VIU’s men’s soccer team has played in big games before, and won or lost. But playoffs will be a new experience for a few of the M’s. There are differences between regular-season soccer and playoff soccer, said Merriman.

“They’ll see a lot from both sides of the field,” said the coach. “From our own team pushing them as well as the other teams lifting their game up that one more step. Because obviously TRU knows the same thing we know – you win that first game, you’ve got a great shot at going to nationals.”

Robbie Cochrane, VIU goalkeeper, said his team intends to show what it’s made of at provincials.

“There’s no, ‘Oh, we can do it next game.’ It’s do or die, right? You leave everything on the field no matter what and you run until you can’t breathe anymore,” he said. “We would do anything to get [to nationals] again. Even if we have to take a couple cards, sacrifice your limbs … People will sacrifice anything to get there and I know I will, too.”

So there’s the determination, and there’s the belief, as well.

“We’ve faced every team in the league. I know that we’re better than every team in the league,” Ewashko said. “No matter how it works out, we’re going to fight till the end.”

SOCCER TALK … PacWest announced its year-end awards on Tuesday. Ewashko and Matt Mehrassa were chosen first-team all-stars and Dan Cato, Ben Leggett and Chris Merriman get second-team all-star nods … VIU women’s soccer players Samantha Rodgers and Shelby Walker were named to the league’s second all-star team.

Just Posted

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Tilray announces new line of products offering more inexpensive choices for medical cannabis users. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo-based Tilray launches new medical cannabis product line

Symbios brand products offered at ‘better price point’ for medical cannabis products

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Regional District of Nanaimo is looking to repair sewage pipe in the Hammond Bay Road area, which was corroded by gas. (Black Press file)
Corroded sewer pipe along Nanaimo’s Hammond Bay Road will cost $5.5 million to fix

Pipe replacement and reinforcement part of $6.9-million infrastructure project

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Most Read